0010 Miss Elizabeth Bishop Reads At Poemhunter Poem by Michael Shepherd

0010 Miss Elizabeth Bishop Reads At Poemhunter

Rating: 2.9

When we invited her to read to us
(she’d be 95 this year) , should we then ask
if she or we should choose
which poems she might read -
she who had written on manners…?
(and would we then, at question time,
dare to ask her politely
to check, maybe agree,
her ‘also read’ list? Bukowski, eh? well, well…)

The packed room was a little apprehensive:
might she have read our own poems here?
Though more likely not, we felt – exposed.
(her poems had remained almost uncommented,
uncommended, here at Poemhunter
and not all very highly scored or rated…)

Silence as she entered. Then as
she faced us on the platform, the years fell away.
Her nose seems still too young for her young face;
her face, still that of a girl of fourteen years
going on fifteen, clear-eyed, clear-browed,
eager to face life and find out
what it has in store;
(the girl who sang hymns to a seal
because they both believed, as she fancied,
in total immersion…)

the barest hint, at the corners of her mouth,
of the acquired, polite petulance
of one who has no time to waste,
eager to face life. Watch out.
(she didn’t like cold calls and such
on the telephone.)

We’d asked her to read the
Invitation to Marianne Moore –
so that we could watch her face, and
bathe in her love so carefully expressed
(‘We can sit down and weep; we can go shopping’)

and asked her too, to read
her Fannie Farmer cookbook verse – so that for years
to come, we’d remember how she smiled…
(she’d talked with Robert Lowell about having fun)

When finally she read the sonnet
written in the year she died
I thought of Prospero
rehearsing William Shakespeare in his part
(she who’d written about learning
the art of losing)

and as she read the sonnet,
we watched as her light spirit
gently left the platform
and floated out of the open door
like a pet bird, sighingly released,
flying out into space;
like a young girl
eager to face life.

Hugh Cobb 04 March 2006

A beautiful imaginative tribute to a fine poet, Michael. I really enjoyed this one, even without your touch of Hindu mythology. Yes, when I read a poet, it's often as though I can see and hear them reading that poem aloud. (When I write, I always write for the ear as well as the eye. My work is meant to be read aloud.) I was really touched by this poem and its sweetness of spirit, not unlike the late subject. Kind regards, Hugh

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kskdnj sajn 04 March 2006

Michael, I really enjoyed the last stanza...a beautiful and peacful picture. A tribute deserved. I was a little confused by the peom, but plead young and ignorant...lol. I imagine perhaps a daydream.

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Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Marton, Lancashire
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